Total Noob Questions

Hi Friends,

I’m brand new to the sport and have no idea what I’m doing but am having fun! I thought I was in the D category and enjoyed racing for the top spot but I got booted up to C division which is kind of a bummer but have now found a few competitive groups I can race against. It was strange since I was coming in 10th in some of these races in D it is what it is I suppose. Since I can’t win I tend to give it my all in the sprint sections as that’s was my phenotype for Zwift academy/have always been hockey player so makes sense. Would like to join a team and learn a bit more. Wondering if anyone can help clarify a few things?

Here are some questions:

Am I in the correct category?
Is my FTP Correct? I’ve done a few tests and it’s stayed at 211.
Am I riding in the correct HR Zone when competing? (should I be pushing harder, I feel like I have zero aerobic capacity and have started long zone 2 rides)
Should I be going for these sprint segment “green jersey” sections during a race, or is it hindering my development/points accumulation?
Should I bugger off and ask a coach these questions and stop asking for free advice?

Open to any and all suggestions!



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Cat C racing tips:

Go hard at the start to get into the front group

Stay with the front group as long as you can

Know the course. If there’s a climb, be prepared to dig in to keep in touch, and remember that the climb includes the first 20 seconds of the descent. If you shut off the gas at the top of the climb you’ll get dropped.

Rinse and repeat for the next few months - and enjoy.

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Great tip David. Do you think I should be saving my juice for those climbs? I think it’s pretty obvious my racing strategy is poor/nonexistent! I thought you’re supposed to get extra points for winning a sprint or at least placing well?

I found it very difficult to stick with those category C guys at the front. Maybe my heart rate zones are off and I should be pushing way way harder than I am? I find the legs give out before the breath

Your numbers indicate that you are correctly in C. Don’t be bummed about getting fitter. It does hurt to be at the bottom of a racing category, but if you’re young and not super trained, you probably have a lot of growth potential. A well-trained 70 year old at the bottom of a category would have a much harder time progressing.

Is your FTP correct? If you’re doing ramp tests, try the longer tests. It will take some time to learn how to pace those efforts, but it’s worthwhile to try. When you’ve mastered that, try to ride at FTP watts for an hour. This is really hard and I can only attempt it a few times a year because it’s hard to motivate to take the pain.

Doing longer zone 2 rides is a great idea. Most of the Zwift training plans don’t include enough low intensity hours on the bike, but chances are you need that.

If you can afford to pay a coach to understand your situation and goals and design a training plan for you, that’s a great idea.

Your 1 minute power numbers are good and training to be able to repeat those efforts within a ride will help you stay with the group in races. To win Zwift races you probably also need to work on sprinting (both training and practice of the mechanics and timing in races). But first you have to get near the finish with the leaders.

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I just looked at my progression this season. I was brand new too!

First 4 Cat C races (May) 47th, 33rd, 18th, 27th
Last 5 Cat C races (Sep/Oct) 5th, 4th,.6th, 4th, 3rd

Mostly … I just got fitter. A combination of structured interval training and also (Z2) pace partner rides. But I also learned when to use that fitness to best effect.

Even short races are repeated bouts of Go Hard, then Rest. If you can push for just ten more seconds when it’s hard, it’s often the difference btwn getting dropped and staying in that sweet, sweet draft and getting a rest. :grin:


This. You saved the best for last. :sunglasses:

It’s an aerobic endurance sport. You’re nothing without a good aerobic engine.

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On your ZwiftPower Profile page click on Settings and tick Available for Recruitment option.
Choose a few group rides you like the look of and get a feel for them.

None of the races you have done so far are points races. There are some points races on Zwift and the race description will let you know. Most races are first over the line so don’t waste energy going for sprint or KOM hill times.

Keep racing C category races, you will get fitter and faster and your race craft will improve.
However to keep racing a bit more fun try looking out for / searching for two events (use ZwiftHacks or ZwiftPower):
TFC Mad Mondays
Low by SZR on Wednesdays
These events split the categories in half and you have the chance each week to race against those of a more similar ability to your own.

Race On.

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I bet if I just tried a little harder to sitck to those
Guys I could hang!

Video was called how riding slower makes you faster on gcn

I’ll try this longer ftp test thanks Paul!

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Ok if we’re always doing first past the post than I just look like a dumb dumb lol

Will conserve these efforts for the climbs. I usually have a tough time on climbs and maintaining that intensity. Especially todays stage 3 ride with the climb at the end.

Also Zwift hacks is new to me it’s hard to search for anything on the companion it seems!

If my FTP is off will that affect my bikes reactions in the race?

FTP is not used for racing - it’s a measure of cycling fitness and is used in workouts to ensure the workout is as effective as it’s designer intended.

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I use the pacer bots to practice my drafting. in this game its a bit of an art so getting the hang of feathering your efforts so you’re not wasting any power will be very useful. I almost always aim to have the lowest average watts in a race… Its really good practice. it’s all about conserving that effort for when in counts. Attacks, hills, counter attacks, or the final sprint.


hockey skaters will have good anaerobic burst power & worse long distance/endurance power. you can train your weaknesses, which will help, but if you are not a natural endurance athlete then you will likely never win a race with a solo break, so best fo focus on your strengths imo.

your #1 goal is to stay in the draft until final 1-2km, then all hell breaks loose, you still want to stay in the wheels until final 250-500m, then go ham until the line with everything you have.

cyclists will always go hard up hill climbs, as it’s the most efficient place to expend energy to drop other riders. power to weight ratio is key here, as is knowing how to pace yourself for a sustained duration without blowing up.

if you lose the group ahead of you, you have to make a split second decision to get out the saddle and #sendit to get back on, otherwise you won’t be seeing those riders again. if you lose contact and can’t get back on, drop back to the next group, don’t waste too much energy trying to get back on if it’s clearly not going to happen.

in terms of heart rate, figure out what your max is, most crit racing I see, people tend to stay at around 15-20 bpm below their max on average (for an hour long race). (so if your max is 180, you should be sitting at avg. 160-165 @ race pace).

in terms of good workouts, give this one a bash, it favours our kind of power :slight_smile: Zwift workouts: Less than 60 minutes to burn » The Wringer | What's on Zwift? (but brace yourself cos 2nd half is hell)